Ventilation in the Workplace: Productivity and Health

As more and more people return to the work environment, creating effective practices to combat poor ventilation has become paramount. Improving indoor ventilation not only increases employee productivity but it creates safer and healthier workplaces. To frame our thinking, we focus on the office environment and the steps to take to promote employee health.


In this article you will learn: 

  • How poor ventilation impacts employees 
  • What is indoor air quality (IAQ) 
  • About Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) 
  • Natural ventilation tips 
  • How to use your AC correctly 
  • What tech Hitachi Cooling & Heating offers


What is Ventilation?

Before diving into ventilation, how do you define it? Simply put, it is when fresh outdoor air is introduced to an indoor space to help dilute the airborne contaminants that have built up over time.  


We’ve all experienced it, that feeling of hot and heavy air building up, draining you of your energy and hindering your ability to concentrate. This feeling is one of the most recognisable signs that there is a ventilation issue that needs to be addressed.  


Proper ventilation of indoor spaces has become a top priority for many, especially in the workplace, where balancing productivity, comfort and health requires diligent attention.



How Does Poor Ventilation Impact Employees?

Poor ventilation is the catalyst for a variety of other ambient issues which impact employee health. Without proper ventilation, humidity, CO2, germs, and indoor pollution sources build up. These different factors are often referred to together under the umbrella of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). When IAQ decreases, the risk of symptoms and illnesses increases. These include, among others:  

  • Fatigue and lack of concentration 
  • Headaches, hypersensitivity, and allergies 
  • Nausea and dizziness 
  • Rashes 
  • Increased stress 
  • Dry throat and dry skin (low humidity can "dry” air out) 
  • Cold and Flu (high humidity can lead to mould and bacterial growth) 

As you can see, becoming hot and bothered isn’t the only concern with poor IAQ in the workplace. A study by Ambius found that 40% of US workers suffered illnesses as a result of poor air quality in the workplace. When a building is affecting its occupants in this manner, it’s called Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). The syndrome is generally characterised by irritated eyes, nose, and throat and tiredness but can comprise the others listed.  


Read more about how indoor air quality affects and its causes here.




Focus on Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) 

SBS can occur in one room, zone or in a whole building, depending on how these spaces are used. It is used to describe the health (and comfort) complaints that spending time in a given room can have on a person. SBS is generally linked to poor ventilation and indoor air quality, but lighting and sound also contribute to the symptoms it generates.  


A person suffering from Sick Building Syndrome will find that when they are away from the space that their health and state improves.  


To decrease the risk of employees suffering from SBS whilst at work it’s important to maintain and improve indoor air quality, and proper ventilation is key.  


How to Improve Office Ventilation

Here are some of the ways to boost ventilation in the workplace to help keep productivity at an optimal level and maintain a healthier office environment.  

Natural Ventilation Tips:

  1. Opening windows doesn’t have to mean working in a blustery office. Part-opened windows dotted throughout the room or zone are enough to ensure adequate airflow without causing uncomfortable drafts. 
  2. Cross-ventilation can be an ideal way to naturally ventilate rooms and zones at the same time. For example, create a thorough draft by opening a window, propping the door open (unless it is a fire door) and opening a window in another part of the office.  
  3. Air out the office space completely to dilute the charged indoor environment and renew the air. This is best done during a moment in the day when occupancy is low, like lunchtime for example.  


Using your Air Conditioner Correctly

In workplaces that rely on air conditioning to cool and heat spaces, it is recommended to open the windows and doors regularly to ensure efficient air renewal or, if available, use the systems ventilation fan to bring fresh air into the room.   




Hitachi Cooling & Heating Ventilation Technology 

Our Ventilation lineup features units that can be used alone, or it can be incorporated into a Hitachi indoor unit via the fresh-air port. We also have products that can be integrated into your ventilation units and air conditioning systems to maintain and improve indoor air quality. 


  • Wasabi Air Purifying Filter 
  • Econofresh – Our air renewal unit cools spaces naturally using the Free Cooling mode, using outside air to cool indoor spaces. Not only does this product supply indoor spaces with fresh air, but it also helps save energy.
  • CO2 Sensor - When integrated, this optional sensor monitors and manages CO² levels, automatically adjusting the unit's operation to avoid the environment becoming charged and unpleasant.  


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